Holistic medicine for dogs may sound like an odd idea but it's actually gaining in popularity rather rapidly as more and more people seek different ways to help treat and maintain their pet's health. This natural approach to medical care, which tends to treat the whole patient rather than targeting a specific illness or symptom, is best used in conjunction with traditional veterinary care to provide the most thorough and effective treatment for your dog.
The idea behind holistic treatment isn't really all that unusual. Many people try various natural types of therapy and treatment, like practicing yoga or changing their diet to include healthier choices, in order to improve their overall wellness. If that approach can work for you, then why wouldn't the same thing apply to your pet? Dogs can benefit just as much from less invasive methods and many owners like the idea of being able to improve their quality of life for as long as possible.
There has been such growth in the area of holistic medicine for dogs that there is now an organization, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), that focuses solely on that area. Holistic vets will employ both traditional methods, including x-rays and prescription drugs, and more natural approaches like herbal treatments, acupuncture and massage to help give their patients the best whole body care.
Some of the most popular holistic treatments applied to dogs include acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage, herbal medicines, and nutritional changes. As in humans, acupuncture involves the placement of tiny needles along specific points on the body to help relieve pain and pressure. With hydrotherapy, dogs undergo physical therapy in the water, which allows for low-impact exercise, ideal for Aussies and other dogs that suffer from joint pain, arthritis and muscular issues. It can also help with healing after surgery or injury.
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Massage is a great form of holistic medicine for dogs that can help to encourage healing by improving blood flow, stimulating nerves, relaxing muscles and relieving stress. It can also help to build a wonderful bond between owner and pet. Herbs can be used to treat many specific symptoms, just as in humans, and changes to the diet can help promote good overall health. Note that you should always consult with your vet first before making any dietary changes or giving your dog supplements.
Other types of holistic treatment can also be employed, including chiropractic medicine, magnetic field therapy, and aromatherapy. Purportedly, each has had varying levels of success depending on the pet and their specific medical issue. It is particularly important to use caution with aromatherapy since dogs have a much more highly developed sense of smell than humans and are therefore more sensitive to scents. Some essential oils can actually be bad for pets, so always consult with your vet about which ones to use—if any...
An important caveat to keep in mind is that not all holistic treatments for dogs are created equal. Despite what anyone says, including the AHVMA, some treatments are strongly supported by scientific evidence, others very much less so, and some fly in the face of science and reason altogether (ie. homeopathic remedies for dogs). Be sure to take the time to evaluate the scientific evidence and the veracity of the claims for any treatment you are considering so you can avoid those based on pseudoscience and nonsense. (Did I mention homeopathy?)
No one likes to see their best friend suffer, so when health problems do occur it makes sense to look into every possible avenue for treatment, including holistic medicine for dogs. There is no reason why your Aussie couldn't benefit from some holistic treatments. If you're interested in giving your dog the best possible care, consult with your vet and see what kind of holistic methods you can use to improve his health naturally and help you weed out the ones to avoid.
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